What’s more, in 2006, Imam Rauf was recorded opining that the U.S. should engage Hamas and support an “Islamic state” since it is supporting the Jewish state of Israel. He repeatedly checked to make sure he was not on the air and that the other person understood his comments were off the record. He said that he did not support a “demographic Islamic state,” meaning a nation consisting of Muslims. Rather, he supports an “Islamic state” where everyone lives together. That sounds an awful lot like Muslims and non-Muslims living under Sharia law.
Taken together, these activities cast serious doubt on Park51’s claim that it simply seeks to improve interfaith relations. If that had been its goal, Park51 would have realized by now that it is undermining its own cause — and backtrack accordingly. After all, this controversy is so damaging to Islam that the top scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo suspect Park51 is part of a Zionist conspiracy.
Clearheaded opposition continues to build in the U.S. and around the world. Muslims opposing Park51 include Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy, Raheel Raza and Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Stephen Schwartz of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the first Muslim Miss USA, Mansoor Ijaz, the director of Al-Arabia TV, Hasan Mahmud and Neda Bolourchi. According to Gallup, 14 percent of Muslims want the site moved, 30 percent want it changed into an interfaith center owned by several religious groups, and 43 percent support it as is.
Imam Rauf has made a mistake by bringing attention to himself again. As I told the New York Times, this will “revive the opposition” and give Park51’s opponents more opportunities to raise these facts and questions. This battle isn’t over just yet.